NESTON CIVIC SOCIETY NEWSETTER
200th Ladies Day 5 June 2014
by Peter Roca
Winter 2014 No. 88
Neston Civic Society...
What does the Society do?
We are concerned with
THE LOCAL ENVIRONMENT - PLANNING - ARCHITECTURE - CONSERVATION
We campaign to bring about improvements in and about Neston with particular emphasis on the Conservation area.
Cheshire West and Chester Council ask us for our views
A Newsletter is published twice yearly
We give talks/ presentations six times a year at Parkgate & Neston United Reformed Church
We publish a Town Trail pamphlet
THE CIVIC SOCIETY'S OUTSIDE INTERESTS
The Civic Society is represented by members of our Committee on:
Project Rural Matters
CH64/ CAN Events Group
Cheshire West & Chester Sainsbury's Section 106 Group (non-voting)
Neston Town Council Neighbourhood Plan Quality of Life/ Transport Group
Public Art Steering Group
Chairman Rob Ward 336 1517 email@example.com
Hon. Secretary Lindsey Hinks 336 6598 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Treasurer Janet Griffiths* 336 5478 email@example.com
Vice-chairman Tom Marlow 336 4007 firstname.lastname@example.org
Social Secretary Celia Garvey 336 5245 email@example.com
Michelle Johnson 513 6160 firstname.lastname@example.org
Stephen Quicke 336 6792 email@example.com
*Address (for Standing Orders): 25A, Hinderton Road, NESTON CH64 9PE
NESTON CIVIC SOCIETY
PROGRAMME OF TALKS
Talks are at the United Reformed Church Hall, Moorside Lane, Parkgate NESTON CH64 6UZ
20 November 2014
7.30 p.m. AGM
8 p.m. Was Alfred Great? by Michael Murphy
...a popular local speaker, with a novel twist on topics
15 January 2015
7.30 p.m. Arctic and Hebridean Odyssey (pictures of wild life from Greenland to Skye) by Gordon Yates
...a brilliant photographer, whose work can be seen at http://www.gordon-yates.com/
19 March 2015
7.30 p.m. The Future of Neston, by Andrew Miller M.P.
This will be one of the last talks given by Andrew Miller before he retires as Member of Parliament for Ellesmere Port & Neston.
21 May 2015
16 July 2015
7.30 p.m. Please note the dates in your diary.
We welcome Mr & Mrs Saunders.
Thanks to Peter Roca for the frontispiece. As 2014 was the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Neston Ladies Female Friendly Society, his drawing is most appropriate.
Thanks to Janet Griffiths for her article on Neston Town Council. Since Neston Civic Society took the initiative of campaigning for a Parish/ Town Council, we like to see it do well. Janet is busy being Mayor this year, and when I have heard her speak she has done so in the sensible down-to-earth way we would expect from Janet. In June we were proud to see her parading as Mayor in the 200th anniversary Ladies Day procession. She continues to work hard as our Treasurer, for which we are most grateful.
Thanks to Steve Quicke for Out and About. Steve has been busy this year in many ways. He organised a tour and a talk at the Albert Dock, which a group of us appreciated enormously. Steve has organised plaques for the two seats at Neston Cross, but we are waiting for Cheshire West & Cheshire Council to install them level, as they promised, before attaching our name to them. Steve is also arranging a new slate plaque to replace the one on the wall at Templadee, in Parkgate Road, commemorating the visit by John Wesley. As a practising architect, Steve is a great source of advice when we discuss planning applications.
Thanks to a correspondent for the article on the history of Plough Cottage: many members will know who lives there!
Thanks to Lindsey Hinks for her notes on the talk by Elizabeth Davey, and for her hard work all year as Secretary.
Thanks to Susan Chambers for her second article on the history of medical practice in Neston. We are indebted to Dr Ian Morrison for starting the ball rolling, when he gave us some of the history of the practice that is now on John Yeoman Close, named after Dr John Yeoman.
In July we had a stall at the Neston Village Fair, and displayed the copy of the 1732 Mostyn Map, which forms the centre of our very popular Town Trail booklet.
In September we again took part in Heritage Open Days, with two guided walks around the Town Trail. One visitor has asked for a group tour in December, for which they offer to pay.
We were sorry to hear of the death of David Andrews, who was Chairman of Neston Civic Society from 1996 to 2001. He was for many years a Cheshire County Councillor, and more recently a Town Councillor.
Neston Civic Society (jointly with Neston Town Council) again entered Neston & Little Neston in the Community Pride Competition. We came nowhere in the Best Kept Village competition. Janet Griffiths worked hard organising litter-picking and weeding days, so this is disappointing, but we look forward to the judges' detailed comments, which will go on the Neston Civic Society website. The Bushell Fountain won a Little Gem Award, and the Community Website neston.org.uk was Runner Up among Market Towns for the second consecutive year.
At the AGM on November 20 it would be good to have some fresh people join the committee. If you feel you could come to monthly meetings, help us comment on planning applications, and generally keep an eye on Neston, please volunteer. We are most grateful to the members who help us distribute newsletters and collect subscriptions.
NESTON TOWN COUNCIL October 2014
The Town Council is now managing the Town Hall and Market, though the building remains in the ownership of Cheshire West and Chester (CWaC). This has meant that we have needed to increase the number and hours of our staff. Alison Kunaj remains Town Clerk and Katy Pierce Town Centre Manager. Unfortunately Michelle Suckley our Admin. Officer resigned in May. She has been replaced by Audrey Duncan, who has proved to be very capable and efficient, and has been promoted to Assistant Town Clerk. We also needed help minuting meetings and helping Katy Pierce with the running of the Town Hall. We appointed a Support Officer, Nicola McMahon. She has been in post three weeks and is doing well getting to grips with council business.
This has enabled us to open up the front office of the Town Hall in the morning and it has proved to be very popular. Many of the queries are actually about CWaC responsibilities, but Audrey answers what she can, and those she cannot she directs to the CWaC information desk in the Library. From the Town Hall front office, as well as information about the Town Council, you can get bus timetables, free doggie bags and blue badge forms. There are also racks of tourist information.
Frank Kinsella has taken the post of Estate and Markets Officer. He used to be the support officer to the town hall caretaker/ manager, so is well acquainted with what is needed. He is very willing and helpful. His number is 07880 802 943. He works with Katy Pierce, who worked hard through the summer to liven up the Friday market with musical entertainment. On those lovely summer days people seemed to enjoy the experience. Katy is now planning future markets. Soon we hope to have a monthly Saturday ‘Farmers' and Food Makers' Market*’ and maybe a Christmas Market. [*The first took place on 1 November - Ed.]
The Town Centre committee is discussing how the main hall in the Town Hall can be made more user-friendly. It does look a bit neglected at the moment. We are keen that it should become the ‘social hub of the community’. If you have any suggestions please let us know.
Grants continue to be given to local groups so they can continue their activities and enhance the lives of local residents. It has been heartening to see that the grant given to the Air Cadets for musical instruments has been put to good use. They have formed a band and played well at this year’s Summer Fair and at the opening of the WWI Exhibition in the Library, where they played music from that era.
Unfortunately Councillor Katherine Owen has resigned, but we are pleased that Peter Eccleston has taken the vacant position. His expertise in building, construction and architecture will prove most welcome on the Planning and Environment (P&E) Committee, which he has agreed to join.
P&E committee continue to consider planning applications, and give CWaC their views. A Greening Working Group has been formed, consisting of councillors and volunteers, and is looking to plant more trees and flowers to improve the environment. P&E continue to lobby to get the railway electrified and better bus provision: it is proving rather hard work, but we will keep at it. Most of you will be aware that the mosquitoes have been very bad this year and we have received many complaints. The digging of the ponds to encourage fish to eat larvae was thwarted by the very wet spell earlier in the year. This filled many shallow pools in which the mosquitoes laid their eggs and the warm summer hatched them. We will probably chase up CWaC again to see if we can get some spraying done next year but with their cut-backs we may not be successful.
We have just had the results of the Community Pride Competition and I am afraid we were not successful, despite litter picks and a small group of Civic Society members doing guerilla weeding. The Bushell Fountain received a Little Gem Award and the neston.org.uk website managed by Rob Ward and Jerry Harris received the Runners Up award once again. We will keep trying.
Since having the honour to be voted Mayor of Neston in May I have enjoyed many local events and met many residents. It began with the wonderful 200th Anniversary Walk of the Ladies Female Society (the last society of its sort in the country). We were blessed with lovely weather, and to join with the numerous dignitaries and beautifully dressed girls and ladies was a special experience. Since then I have opened the Village Fair, Burton Fête and local exhibitions, given out prizes and joined the community in enjoying events in Stanney Fields Park and West Vale Park. My thanks to all those who have encouraged and supported me.
OUT AND ABOUT
As we go to press the Town Centre is stuck with another bout of ‘traffic freeze’, diverting vehicles left right and centre as Bridge Street gets a new coat of tarmac. The ‘after-shocks’ of the earlier Town Centre repair works seem to continue to reverberate.
Some of our long-established shop fronts have fallen vacant, but others have been rejuvenated. We welcome the fresh new face of the Skipton Building Society next to Tesco’s on The Cross, and in Parkgate the Elephant Coffee shop Number Two has finally launched and appears to be trading well. We applaud the Mitchells' continued local enterprise, whilst opposite Rightway in Bridge Street, the Vapour Hut is another growing new business.
Overall there continue to be too many vacancies in the town’s street frontages and unless commercial takers can be encouraged to blow a breath of retail or business enterprise over our dusty empty gaps, perhaps it is inevitable that more residential conversions will follow. At the very least, vacant upper floor refurbishments will be likely to provide more flats. Are flats really the answer, however when smaller affordable houses with their own front doors appear to be more popular?
Flat conversion schemes are in practice easier to create in a town centre setting than conventional houses. A new build scheme of flats has been approved on the old petrol station site in Chester Road and others are in the pipeline.
A few hundred yards away from the centre of the town, housing schemes are springing up in a number of locations including the former Templadee site on Parkgate Road where the McBryde Houses scheme is quickly emerging and some of the houses are at roof level. The site will be fully occupied – as is the pattern everywhere – and gardens just get smaller. Near to the McBryde scheme on Boundary Park off Moorside Lane a substantial new scheme of 33 houses for Elan Homes is proceeding through planning on designated land but immediately adjacent to Green Belt. This scheme is to provide a range of detached and semi-detached houses, including a number of affordable homes. The sizes will vary from the very small to the more comfortable. In so planning mixed developments, a more integrated ownership and social structure can hopefully be created in accordance with current policy for larger schemes.
Other smaller housing schemes continue to pick up derelict sites or infill garden plots. In Parkgate two cottages are under construction on the site of the old abattoir in Swifts Weint – surely an improvement in the appearance of that back lane. Nearby the site at the far end of Holywell Close, home of derelict workshops and garages, is being sold and will soon be home for another cottage scheme.
In Ness, Neston and Little Neston a number of sites are the subject of infill applications. Often unpopular with immediate neighbours, these schemes nonetheless provide new homes without breaching Green Belt.
On the subject of more communal activities, it should be recorded that the 200th Ladies Day celebration and parade occurred on 5th June and was a great success, once again recording Neston’s justified pride at this institution’s unique historical position. The events of the parade are marked in Andy Birch’s topical graffiti mural in Brook Street – moustaches and all! The same artist created the graffiti art on the wheels park in Stanney Fields Park, and another feature in the station underpass – although this has had to be removed recently on account of the crumbling plaster.
For those who enjoy recreational rural pursuits, the Neston Cycle Town is a good idea, but not yet fully rolled out. The signs at Tanks Field, where the Greenway reaches Church Lane, sends people towards Burton Road, and then abandons them without indication of how to reach the Wirral Way or Neston Town Centre. Equally there are still no signs from the Cross to the Market Square for those less familiar with the town. At the square itself flowers and baskets have looked good and added colour all summer. However the Greenway itself is becoming narrowed by vegetation as is Cuckoo Lane. The capital budget was created but not the annual maintenance allowance, a recurring problem with life in general!
The Parkgate Donkey Stand now has excellent new interpretive plaques and there are two older ones about the old collieries, at the end of Marshlands Road and at Denhall Quay. The scheme needs rolling out further in the best interests of public information to explain our local history to locals and visitors alike.
Neston’s Medical Practices, Part II
The cholera epidemic of 1866 reached Neston and district in September of that year and presented a major problem for Dr David Russell of Vine House, who was the medical officer for the district, appointed by the Wirral Guardians, in addition to having his own private practice. About fifty people died in the Neston area, and the event led to the creation of a Local Board of Health and drastic cleaning up of the town. Dr Russell died in 1893, having been an active member of the Local Board for many years in addition to serving the town as one of its doctors. His widow donated the land on which, some years later, the library was built, to the design of her son H.F.Russell who was another well-known figure locally. His civil engineering company also designed the timber St Michael’s church in Little Neston in 1913, and the cemetery chapel.
Dr John Osborne Blunden was a partner of Dr Russell and acted as medical officer to the local Oddfellows, Neston Female Friendly Society, and the Ancient Shepherds Club. Many people belonged to these friendly societies, which provided a form of medical insurance. The doctors were accustomed to dealing with trauma cases and were the first ones called in case of accidents. Dr Blunden for example could set a broken leg, and dealt with Mealor the Ness blacksmith when he had been kicked in the head by a horse leaving his brain exposed. He attended the Willaston vicar when he fell off a ladder whilst decorating the church and gave medical aid when someone almost lost his thumb whilst shooting on the marshes. Patients were occasionally sent to the workhouse infirmary at Clatterbridge or to Chester Infirmary.
St John Ambulance was founded in 1877, and some local people took the courses they offered. In 1894 a farm worker with a badly fractured leg was attended to by a Neston police constable who had St John training, until Dr Blunden arrived. An injury to a miner was given first aid by the St John trained manager Mr Platt, whilst waiting for Dr Blunden.
Another partner of Drs Blunden and Russell was Dr C.W. Yeoman who died in 1896 aged 28 and must not be confused with his brother, John Yeoman, who served the area until after the second war and died in 1969 in his late 90s.
In 1896 Dr John Yeoman took up general practice in Neston. He was a man of many and varied interests and skills, of great academic achievement and impressive character. He held many responsible positions, and became the first medical superintendent of Clatterbridge Hospital when the old infirmary became a modern general hospital in 1930. He was a member of Neston Urban District Council, chairman of the public health committee, medical officer of health to some of the Wirral authorities, and also tuberculosis officer. World War I saw him in khaki, and as a lieutenant-colonel in charge of a stationary hospital in Egypt, whilst lecturing in forensic medicine at Cairo University. He studied Arabic for years – and after the war he was called to the Bar. Dr Yeoman was of course well versed in local history of the area and had some interesting tales to tell of his early predecessors in Neston. He lived in Elmhurst on Parkgate Road. Though he retired just before the second world war as medical officer of health, he stepped into the breach for several years when the new incumbent went to war.
Dr Lewis Grant, another of Neston’s many Scottish physicians, had married David Russell’s daughter. Ladies Day 1900 was a busy one for him when he had to attend to Mrs Coventry when she fell from the steam hobby-horses at the Fair, breaking both her legs. He then had to look after a young man who had been in a cycling accident on his way back to Kelsterton after the Fair. In 1910 the practice was made up of Drs Yeoman, Grant and Carlisle. Dr Grant was also very active in the World War I era in the town, training the ambulance corps, the men who assisted with the auxiliary military hospitals, including bringing the wounded men from the railway stations. He was medical officer to Mostyn House, and the Parkgate Convalescent Home, deputy medical officer and public vaccinator for Neston district, and deputy medical officer for Clatterbridge Workhouse.
After the war, funds and equipment that were left from closure of the Red Cross military auxiliary hospital in the Institute (Civic Hall) were channelled towards setting up of a War Memorial Cottage Hospital at a large house in Little Neston, ‘Dee View’. It was opened in 1920 with eleven beds, increased to twenty-five beds in later years. For nearly thirty years before the National Health Service, the hospital operated with local doctors, financed by donations, insurance and contributory schemes, always (like the NHS) needing more money. An Entertainments Committee worked ceaselessly to raise funds. Mr Grenfell of Mostyn House organised firework displays in the 1930s to raise funds. The GPs treated their own patients there, and a wide range of surgery was performed. The new National Health Service took over the hospital in 1948 and kept it running until the early 1960s. It closed in 1964, the building was demolished in 1967, and the houses in Mellock Close now stand on the site.
Dr George Gunn built the house that stands at the end of Church Lane, near the Library, just before the first world war. His son, Lieutenant G. Ward Gunn was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross in World War II, and a bed was endowed in his name at the Cottage Hospital when Dr Gunn was senior medical officer.
In 1934 the Neston practice included Dr George Gunn from Church Lane, Dr Charles Forsyth from Turzum opposite the library, Dr Lewis Grant from Wood Lane and Drs Carlisle, Selby and Turner.
In the late 1980s the Neston Medical Centre opened at a new site on Liverpool Road, having previously occupied the upper floor of the building on the south side of Parkgate Road which now houses a tax shop, and in 1992 the Neston Surgery moved from Redcliffe (now a dental surgery) to a new site in the appropriately named John Yeoman Close, off Mellock Lane, modern new buildings for the modern practice with an interesting history.
Wirral Through The Ages
by Elizabeth Davey
Elizabeth Davey’s talk took us on a journey through the history of the Wirral, looking at the geology, the people, the events and the buildings that have formed the Wirral that we know today.
She began by looking at the geology of the Wirral, both the solid geology, such as the sandstone which has been used for so many of our buildings and of which the highest point on the Wirral, Poll Hill in Heswall, is formed, and the drift geology, producing for example, the boulder clay at Thurstaston, and the blown sand landscape at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club. She also mentioned the salt marsh, deliberately planted and now spreading up the Wirral.
Elizabeth then took us through Wirral’s history, represented by artefacts and buildings across the peninsula. There is a submerged forest off the coast of Meols that existed in prehistoric times, and ancient artefacts have been found off the north coast of Wirral, at Dove Point. The name ‘Wirral’ means ‘ the place at the nook where bog myrtle grows’. Elsewhere on Wirral the presence of the Vikings is indicated by place names such as Thingwall, West Kirby, Pensby and Irby. Anglo-Norse hog-back stones have also been discovered, some of them in Neston.
The Domesday book of 1086 records 43 places in Wirral, mostly agricultural, based on farming and fishing. Wirral was one of the seven hundreds of Cheshire. Shotwick castle is an example of an early mediaeval building, built as a defence for Chester, as is Birkenhead Priory which was built in 1160.
Wirral was designated as a hunting forest from 1120 until 1376, when, after complaints about the oppressive rule of the Stanley family, Edward 1, the Earl of Chester, issued a disafforestation charter. Wirral remained essentially agricultural, and Elizabeth showed us pictures of Storeton hall, Thurstaston Hall, and Brimstage Hall, all originally timber-framed thatched buildings from around this time. Neston was an exception to the mainly agricultural economy, developing as a market town due to its position on the peninsula.
Elizabeth continued with a tour of Wirral towns. Ellesmere Port developed when the Shropshire Union canal was continued from Chester to the Mersey and settlement grew around it. Hoylake grew and developed at the end of the 18th century when a hotel was built and sea-bathing became fashionable.
Elizabeth then spoke about other buildings that feature in the Wirral landscape. The lighthouse at Leasowe was built in 1762, the Column in West Kirby built in 1841 to replace Grange Mill, a landmark for sailors, that blew down in 1839. Fort Perch Rock and lighthouse in New Brighton were built as defence for the Mersey in 1825.
Elizabeth talked about some individuals who have influenced Wirral: William Laird of Birkenhead, built the Birkenhead Iron Works, manufacturing boilers near Wallasey Pool. He was joined in business by his son John Laird, founding a company that later became Camell Laird’s ship builders. John Atherton developed New Brighton as a seaside resort. William Hesketh Lever moved his soapworks from Warrington to Wirral, creating the village of Port Sunlight for his workers in 1888, and having a considerable impact on the landscape of the peninsula.
Transport systems have been a vital part of Wirral life through the ages. Ferries plied their trade across the Mersey from earliest times, but the journey was hazardous until the introduction of steam ferries which operated from Seacombe and Eastham. The Mersey railway tunnel opened in 1886, but with ventilation problems that resulted in passengers being covered in soot! The introduction of the railways opened Wirral to commuters, a process continued by the opening of the road tunnels.
Thanks to Elizabeth for an interesting and informative talk, and to Lindsey Hinks for these notes.
Neston Neighbourhood Plan
Notes on a talk by Phil Baker 28 October 2014
Phil dropped into a Drop-in at Neston Town Hall on 15 June 2012, and this led to his becoming Chair of the Community Steering Group. Nobody present at the large meeting in Neston Cricket Club admitted to not knowing about the Neighbourhood Plan, which arises from the Government's National Planning Policy Framework (which says how many new houses they think we need). This leads to a Local Plan drawn up by Cheshire West & Chester, which our Neighbourhood Plan has to fit.
The Neighbourhood Plan covers the Neston Civil Parish, which includes Parkgate, Ness and Little Neston, and in 2011 was home to 15,221 people in 7.097 properties. It runs from 2010 – 2030 (even though the Localism Act became law only in 2012) and will influence land planning.
Neston Town Council recruited over 20 volunteers, who worked with three town councillors. The public were consulted in a street poll, at Neston Market, at Neston Village Fair, and in a special eight-page issue of Neston Matters. This offered 28 draft proposals: the public cast their votes in boxes in the supermarkets, Town Hall and Library.
The draft Neighbourhood Plan is not yet public, but Phil held up a copy of the 60-page document, 'hot off the press', and outlined its contents. It starts with Key Spatial Issues; then Objectives; then 32 Policies with explanations, which can be used in planning applications once it is a legal document.
The policies can be put into categories:
Three deal with housing within the urban area including the potential for residential properties within the Town Centre, especially homes for retired people, starter homes, student housing, and affordable homes:
There is a Development Strategy which covers protection of the Green Belt from development.
Four concern employment, particularly at Clay Hill.
Three are about retail matters, with the possibility of a smaller town centre for Neston;
Three address tourism, a vital driver of the economy, with Parkgate the only coastal part of Cheshire (but not mentioned in the Local Plan) the Neighbourhood Plan asks for development that has no detrimental impact on residents;
Four have plans for transport, supporting Merseyrail's recent strategy for electrifying the Borderlands Railway. A new Neston South station is considered together with better bus routes and shelters, cycle routes (which are important for tourism) and a cycle hub at an expanded Station Road car park in Parkgate with also the possibility for a bridge over the road to link the Wirral Way.
Four relate to design of developments, which should take note of the character of different areas, and be sustainable;
Six are to do with landscape, including woods and hedgerows;
Four policies cover community matters, such as the development of Neston High School and the need to improve the Recreation Centre.
Concerning housing, the Local Plan calls for more than 20,000 houses in 20 years in Cheshire West, of which Neston would have a maximum of 200, but this was changed by the external examiner to a minimum of 200: in fact 209 are already built or planned. A problem is that the Local Plan will not meet targets for affordable housing without possibly using Green Belt. A Key Policy of the Neighbourhood Plan is to preserve our Green Belt, but it has to comply with the Local Plan, which talks of Rural Exception Sites. The therefore states that we have to first use all available urban sites, then allow only small developments in the Green Belt. This policy will be included in the Neighbourhood Plan if the external examiner’s proposals are adopted in the Local Plan
The draft Neighbourhood Plan has now been sent to CWaC for sustainability appraisal and strategic environmental assessment (English Heritage and Flintshire County Council, for example ). They have six weeks to comment. In December Neston Town Council will, Phil hopes, approve it, and it will be made public, in Neston Town Hall and Library, and probably in electronic format, for six weeks of public comment starting towards the end of December. Early in 2015 it will go to CWaC, and to an External Examiner. Late in 2015 we will be asked to vote whether to accept it. If we do it will become part of the planning process, and the Town Council will be able to use it in marketing. It will reviewed every five years.
Thirty Years Ago – 1984
In 1984 the Secretary was Susan Chambers (who wrote the second article on doctors in Neston for this Newsletter, and is writing weekly articles about World War I for Aboutmyarea). The Society again produced four newsletters.
No. 9 January 1984
The Society entered the Civic Trust's Pride of Place Competition, and was Highly Commended. The Borough Council agreed to take on the Society's proposals to enhance the front of the Town Hall, and the garden at the rear. New green and red tiles on the outside of the Brown Horse were criticised, but the new frontage for Wilson Cowie and Dillon, Solicitors, drew praise. The Bingo Hall was being converted to a shopping arcade with nine units: in 2014 the Royal Arcade has only one shop (Linda's Hairstylist). The argument about proposed lakes alongside Parkgate, Neston and Little Neston continued. The engineer in favour wrote ...'need to upgrade what can only be described as an area which is wholly unacceptable environmentally and could, by the presence of flies and vermin, quite easily become a health hazard...' He did not mention mosquitoes! The Science Park proposed by Cheshire County Council was being discussed at public and Council meetings. At the AGM Claire Johnson had retired as Chairman and John Lamprell took over. Linda Briggs retired as Secretary, to be succeeded by Susan Chambers. John Rushton remained Treasurer. Under the heading 'Neston Study' the Society published articles showing the changes that had taken place since 1900. Virginia Bowes wrote about Neston Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and St Winefride's Roman Catholic Church. Henry Norman wrote about Neston Parish Church.
No. 10 April 1984
A picture of the plaque 'To mark the 170th anniversary of the Neston Female Friendly Society' adorns the front of this issue, the original still displayed on Neston Town Hall. Virginia Bowes wrote an article about Ladies Day, based on 'recollections of family and friends and conversations with the Society's Secretaries Mr N. Angel and Mr Warburton (now deceased)'. The January meeting was in the new venue of the United Reformed Church, a talk on '150 Years of Transport in Wirral' by Jack Barlow, a former member of staff of Mostyn House School. In February John Lamprell spoke about Conservation Areas – with Special Reference to Neston'. Neston acquired its Conservation Area in 1980, but it seemed that not much had changed as a result. It was suggested that an Article IV would help to protect the area, but the Government and Council were said to be reluctant to grant or apply for it. The March meeting was 'Pedestrianisation – and what it could mean for Neston', a 'talk and discussion conducted by Haydn Voce and John Myers'. The 'provocative issue' provoked a lively discussion. An amusing article suggests questions to ask candidates for the fortthcoming Council elections. Planning applications included proposed sheltered accommodation on waste land next to Comrades Field, which the committee accepted in principle but whose design they thought unsuitable. The second 'Neston Study' article was by Linda Briggs, on Water supply, Gas supply, Electricity, Refuse Collection, Telephones and telegrams, and Agriculture.
No. 11 July 1984
The first article was a strong objection to the proposed Science Park. Geoff Parker of the Ashfield Hall Farm Action Group pointed out that it would mean the loss of 176 acres of Green Belt. He also commented that Cheshire County Council had bought the farm to prevent it being developed by JB Eastwood. Members were encouraged to write to the County Council and to M. Woodcock MP. The Society was not happy with new litter bins – 'bright yellow round type mounted on lamp posts' and 'free-standing precast concrete unit of ugly shape and jaundiced colour'. The Society launched a competition for children on 'Neston, past, present and future'. The under-11 winner was Edward Humphreys, who interviewed Mr and Mrs Hosker (Peggy Williams, music teacher) of Bank Cottage. Another enterprising winner was Claire Mylchreest, who won the 11-14 category: she went to Cheshire Records Office at The Castle, Chester, where she found maps of Neston, and prices of goods, which she noted were in £.s.d. Ewan Isaacs won the 14 – 16 group: he explored the deserted Wheatsheaf coaching inn, and commented 'it seems a shame to see this ancient building constructed from sandstone and oak slowly falling apart'. In the URC Hall, the Cheshire County Archaeologist spoke in April on studying Cheshire's history from aerial photographs. In May Clare Johnson spoke on 'Fine Art in Neston - the Staplands Studio'. Staplands was 'the last large detached house as one leaves Neston', and is still in Hinderton Road. Between 1923 and 1944 Andrea Pallis, goldsmith, and Aristide Messanesi, weaver, both from Greece, 'produced metalwork, carpets, tapestries and brocades of fine quality'. The article is fascinating. In June there was a talk on Listed Buildings in Neston. John Rushton left the district, and resigned as Treasurer: Linda Briggs took over.
No. 12 October 1984
With the AGM coming up, there is a call for new committee members. The membership of the Society had grown to 175 families. The Borough Council's Planning Committee had voted to approve the Science Park, after the full Council had opposed the County Council's plans. The Brown Horse had been given an enforcement notice to reinstate the external appearance, but had appealed. Concerns include the state of the Brewers Arms Barn. In July Stephen Quicke of the Borough Architects Department conducted a guided tour of the new houses opposite Neston Town Hall. The 'two bungalows, four ground floor pensioners flats, two houses and four maisonettes' received lavish praise. (In 2014 Stephen is in private practice, and an active member of our committee.) In September Jerry Williams talked on Merseyside's connection with the American Civil War, when ships were built here for the Confederates. Linda Briggs had given a talk the previous year on 'The Building of the Port of Neston, 1541 – 1608' and a detailed article describes the hard work undertaken by men and women to build the port, which was damaged repeatedly by storms.
Neston Flower Society
Formed in 1959, Neston Flower Society has a membership of 160, and is unique in being a morning club. The motto is Friendship through Flowers.
They meet at the Neston Civic Hall CH64 9PQ, on the 3rd Thursday of the month (except August). Doors open at 9.45 for coffee, and demonstrations start at 10.30. Demonstrators of high calibre educate and promote the love of flowers.
The Society supports many local charities with coffee mornings and demonstrations.
Members made huge numbers of staves and flower arrangements for the 200th Ladies Day Walk on 5th June 2014
The President is Mrs Kathy Wilde 0151 336 4884 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any questions, see the website www.nestonflowersociety.co.uk/, which has lots of excellent photos, or phone Mrs Pat Wood on 0151 336 3170.
A story from Plough Cottage, Neston
This house, nearly 300 years old, came with some interesting information when sold in the 1980’s. There may be other information available from Chester archives etc., but the inherited information and the process of restoration which took three or four years, revealed more of interest to the owner than archive material, which may or may not be accurate!
Plough Cottage was built between 1720 and 1724 of old Cheshire brick on a sandstone plinth, and it had a Welsh slate roof. It was two stories high, and was constructed in what is known as a ‘double pile’ format, i.e. two rooms deep. There were four rooms on the ground floor, and four above. There was also a cellar under the rear two rooms, hewn from the sandstone on which much local property is built.
Local historians who visited the property in the 1980’s thought there might have been evidence of a ‘single pile house’ built in an earlier century, from the type of implements used in the work on the sandstone - not confirmed, but interesting.
In the early days there was land belonging to the property which amounted to about 12 acres. This land was in ‘parcels' scattered around the area, divided into ‘3 acres 0 roods 14 perches’ (not stated where); Hinderton Hey, 4 acres, 0 roods, 13 perches; Overdale, 1 acre 3 roods, 0 perches; another Hinderton Hey, 3 acres, 1 rood, 0 perches; and Townfield strip, 0 acres, 0 roods, 12 perches! Land in those days was 20 shillings an acre for ‘Good land’ and less for poorer land. If oak and ash trees were on the land that were good enough to ‘keep up the repairs' they were mentioned.
The house was owned by a family named Johnson, and the date plate of 1724 shows the initials J and T with L underneath for Thomas and Lidia Johnson.
During restoration work, many interesting items were discovered, including an oil/ ointment pot from the 16thC, many clay smoking pipes, English delft and Buckley glazed pottery pieces 17th/ 18th C, some slipware, and a few coins. Grain was found in some quantity between the floors and ceilings, and proved an interesting talking point! There were also quite a number of ‘hanging irons’ in ceilings of the ground floor and cellar, no doubt for maturing/ drying meat etc.!
The house is now in the original format of the 18thC, and in addition the roof area, which had a new slate roof and four dormer windows in about 1900, houses another three rooms. The floors over the cellar were renewed in pitch pine, and all the dormer windows are in the same lovely wood. All the above works were carried out in 1900, and restored in the 1980’s. Much work had to be carried out, as the house next door, which was built about 1800, had been changed over time to give flying freeholds, whereby ‘rooms over rooms' are owned by different people, and are a buyers' and solicitors' nightmare! Fortunately, the present owner was able to buy the next door property and restore both houses. This included raising the roof on the adjacent house, providing a new roof, dormer window, and en-suite bedroom.
Part 2 will be a short story of this adjacent house.
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